Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Bjork are just a few of the artists who have worn Iris van Herpen’s
futuristic designs. Her bold concepts are often art themselves, which is why the 32-year-old designer from the Netherlands opens an exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Van Herpen’s work plays with themes of technology and nature, life and death. But it’s 3-D printing that makes it unique. Just take the skeleton dress.
“Looks like a raw organic bone, but definitely not human bones, I think it’s too beautiful for that,” says van Herpen. This piece was made with a 3-D printer. She says it’s “inspired [by] me jumping out of a plane and the feeling I get when I do it.”
Everyday things inspire this fashion designer too. Birds, history- even a splash of water.
“The piece that you see here is looking like a splash of water around the body. It’s completely transparent and it captures a second of movement”
She wanted to make a 3-D print of her design, but didn’t have the technology. Instead, she made it by hand, bending plastic with hot air guns and metal pliers.
Van Herpen didn’t grow up with computers or TV’s. And she wasn’t really into fashion as a young girl. She actually wanted be a dancer. But she found herself collecting all kinds of fabrics for years. When she discovered couture fashion, she finally found a way to use these materials and combine them with her passion for movement.
She didn’t start with 3-D designs either.
“In the beginning of my work I was very focused on craftsmanship only. So I did everything by hand. After a couple of years I started collaborating with all the disciplines like architects, artists, scientists- and embedding new techniques and technologies into my work.”
As a curious designer, she experiments and investigates. Some of her designs are inspired by a condition called Synesthesia.
“So you could smell texture or see music. And at this moment in my work I was working with leather a lot. All the three pieces you see here are all made with leather, all different kinds. This is sort of a dark purple suede with a fused foil.”
Which gives it a very digital and synthetic kind of look.
Each piece for this exhibit can take anywhere from 2 to 3 months to create.
Van Herpen sees fashion as art – whether it’s on the runway, or in a museum. And today, she sees both craftsmanship and technology as tools to serve her work.
“At this point they are like a natural family to me. I don’t see one of the two as one better than the other. I can 3-d print a part and finish it by hand so, it’s just a tool I use to create the right shape.”